It’s just so hard!” and indeed, if I were still in high school and had three days’ notice to prepare this piece, I would have been thrown into a panic. He never explained his actions. Marissen is not alone in this interpretation of Handel's masterpiece. Aside from its Joyous Blasts of Righteous Celebration, this chorus includes one of the most anachronistic holiday traditions, that of the audience standing during its performance. Charles Jennens was born around 1700, into a prosperous landowning family whose lands and properties in Warwickshire and Leicestershire he eventually inherited. It is truly remarkable that to this day, even in our rapidly secularizing society, audiences traditionally rise to their feet to show a kind of special honour for this magnificent musical confession of faith. Handel was a devout Christian and Messiah reflects his faith. However secularized and commercialized the contemporary celebration of Christmas may have become, the frequent performance of Messiah around Christmas still testifies to the fact that its connection with the birth of Jesus Christ has not been forgotten in our culture. Messiah was not premiered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Al Wolters is Professor Emeritus of Religion and Theology/Classical Languages at Redeemer University College. Standing to attention. [N.B. It’s not “The Messiah,” it’s “Messiah.” See my explanation here. by Al Wolters. Well, guess what, yesterday I got an email from Dana Harrison, the Executive Director, that I am to play it after all. Standing to attention. The custom of standing for the “Hallelujah” chorus originates from a belief that, at the London premiere, King George II did so, Page 2/14. Join 7000+ readers who receive fresh, thought-provoking articles once a week right in their inbox. No one knows for sure why he stood. 12. Some years ago the Dutch-Canadian musicologist Michael Marissen, who teaches at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia, caused something of a stir by publishing an article entitled "Rejoicing against Judaism in Handel's Messiah." Tickets are available at the door or online. Even in our rapidly secularizing society, audiences still rise to their feet for this musical credo. Or don’t: Remaining seated during the “Hallelujah’’ chorus ranks as one of the more effortless demonstrations of anti-authoritarian dissent. Your email address will not be published. Learn how your comment data is processed. When Handel gave the London premiere, a year later, it was at Covent Garden Theatre. Even in our rapidly secularizing society, audiences still rise to their feet for this musical credo. Part of 'Tis The Season at WQXR.. All December WQXR presents special holiday delights to make this season merry and bright. Scores of performances are mounted each year in cities throughout Europe and the Americas by both local amateurs and highly skilled professionals. 12. Rooting your identity in the image of God. Something else adds to Messiah's attraction and explains why it is almost always performed during Advent. A standard practice is for the audience to stand while this portion of Messiah is performed. The historian Robert Manson Myers expressed incredulity that “thousands who can scarcely distinguish F sharp from middle C punctiliously observe a custom established by a stupid Hanoverian king and his worldly court two hundred years ago.’’. Perhaps the custom persists precisely because no one is sure why it exists, leaving every audience member to choose his or her own rationale. This request typically takes a few seconds. Standing Up for the Hallelujah Chorus. It was understood that whenever the King stood, everyone else was supposed to as well. It is Handel's best-known piece and remains hugely popular. The Oahu Choral Society’s concert, “Tidings of Comfort and Joy,” is Saturday night, December 9 at 7:30 pm at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. The Hallelujah Chorus is traditionally performed throughout the Christian world as part of the Easter celebration. Required fields are marked *. The most popular and most repeated modern myth is that “he was so moved” or “overcome by emotion” by the music that he felt compelled to stand. Although I am not competent to judge, I suspect that other oratorios written by Handel are not necessarily inferior to Messiah in musical excellence, but these others are rarely performed today, if not virtually forgotten.